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How to Train Lining Drills to Retrievers?

Lining drill means teaching your retriever dog to go into a specific direction on your command. This is an essential skill when your dog is going to appear for the AKC hunt test exam. This article covers the 5 lining drills for retrievers.

With every increase in the level of a hunt test, the difficulty of drill tests will also increase. For example in the senior hunt test by AKC, it is expected that the retriever dog will do the “Retrieve” job with you speaking anything. It requires you to use hand signals.

Retriever Lining Drills

The HEEL command is closely associated with the lining drills in the sense that you have to gain full control over the dog.

The initial distance of 10-20 yards is essential when you are having a lining drill with your retriever dog. After this initial distance, the retriever dog can be given different command or his retrieve job is placed at that distance.

The straight distance travel in the initial retrieve helps him stay on target without getting distracted. I mentioned heel command above because the dog is in your full control and will do the job easily without you giving a lot of commands.

So I would recommend you to first teach the HEEL command to your retriever dog and then start with lining drills.

One-Step Drill Retriever Training

Introduction to One-Step Drill

As the name implies, the one-step drill is an exercise that is intended to make your dog walk and balance well. It is carried out by teaching the retriever to alter the positions of its heels in such a manner as to face the same direction you are facing.

All you are trying to do is teach your retriever to adjust their heel position based on the direction that you are facing.

How to Perform the One-Step Drill

  1. Take a pivoting to the opposite direction of your dog
  2. Place yourself at a step from your dog and at a perpendicular direction to it
  3. Ask your dog to get to the heel position
  4. Take one step ahead of the dog
  5. Shout the word ‘heel’ to command the dog to come right next to you and in the same direction you are facing
  6. Repeat this severally and then alter the directions of your steps
  7. Proceed to take a step backward and then issue out the same command
  8. At all times, help your dog to sit straight as it approaches you
  9. Block a spot on the ground with the aim of helping it move its butt so that it may become straight

Troubleshooting and Bonus Tips for One-Step Drill

Tip #1: Get to know your dog well

Some dogs throw their butts away from you. This is counterproductive and time-wasting. The reason here is that they really do not get impacted by the exercises as they should. If yours is one such you have to go to the next step.

Tip #2: Cordon off your practice area

To ward off this eventuality, you are advised to practice right next to a wall, curb, or any other obstruction which might constrain the dog to maintain some straight composure. You may consider modifying your practice area to achieve this end.

Tip #3: Practice some patience

You should do this repeatedly to see to it that the dog gets it right. The reason here is that it may never get this right in the first instance.

Wagon Wheel Drill Retriever Training

Introduction to Wagon Wheel Drill

The wagon drill is a great way to inculcate the lining trait to your dog. Moreover, it also furnishes your dog with the realigning skills it needs at the heel position. It entails turning the heel in various directions while facing the bumpers.

When practiced diligently, it lets your dog turn in multiple directions while adjusting its heels. It is also a good way of aiding your dog in identifying the thrower stations in times of hunt tests without necessarily being issued verbal commands.

How to Perform the Wagon Wheel Drill

  1. Set some four bumpers approximately 10 yards from the center of a wheel
  2. Mark those positions as A, B, C, and D respectively
  3. Be sure to keep the grass in that area as short as possible to keep the bumpers legible
  4. Align the handler at the side of the dog and in the X position
  5. Place your hand right above the head of the dog
  6. Command the dog to behold the bumper and then shout the “back” command
  7. Let your dog sit straight and face the bumper after which you are to send him on the retrieve
  8. Perform one round of clockwise movement and then reverse
  9. Work the dog in a counterclockwise direction
  10. In case the dog proceeds to the wrong bumper, correct it
  11. Stop the dog thereafter and then bring it back to the starting point
  12. If your dog persists in making this mistake, move closer to the bumper before send it

Troubleshooting and Bonus Tips for Wagon Wheel Drill

  1. Sit your dog straight before you commence retrieving the bumpers
  2. Never reward substandard behaviors
  3. Always be on the lookout for the direction of your dog. Get it back to its heels when it strays
  4. See to it that the dog does not get to the wrong bumper no matter how many times you have to do this
  5. Find and use a long lead to stop your dog from getting to the wrong bumper
  6. Move the bumpers closer to the dog to let it get there easily

90-Degree Drill Retriever Training

Introduction to 90 Degree Drill

This is a drill that is mainly recommended if the dog does not respond promptly to the wagon wheel drill. For this exercise, you have to eliminate the distractions which you use for the wagon wheel drills. Instead, you have to retain only one bumper at a time.

The aim of the exercise is to reinforce the behaviors or dogs without necessarily imposing any distractions on it. It also goes by the name cone drill as the bumper is in the shape of a cone.

How to Perform the 90 Degree Drill

  1. Place one cone, preferably orange, around 15 yards from where your dog is
  2. Next, place some three or four bumpers right next to the cone
  3. Command the dog to behold the bumper and then shout the “back” command
  4. Let your dog sit straight and face the bumper after which you are to send him on the retrieve.
  5. Perform one round of clockwise movement and then reverse
  6. Work the dog in a counterclockwise direction
  7. In case the dog proceeds to the wrong bumper, correct it
  8. After the dog returns the bumper, throw the same to the cone and repeat the process
  9. As soon as your dog is doing well, introduce to it the second cone at an angle of 90°
  10. Rotate the two cones thereafter
  11. Introduce a third cone thereafter as soon as your dog is now ready
  12. Do so for a fourth one and so on…

Troubleshooting and Bonus Tips for 90 Degree Drill

Tip #1: Feed your dog well before exercising

Dogs are somewhat sensitive to weaknesses. Be sure to make yours full before commencing the exercises.

Tip #2: Exercise some moderation

Just like humans, dogs too do get bored when they have to perform a task repeatedly. It is hence a good idea to vary the exercising appropriately.

Tip #3: Be consistent and persistent

Obviously, you have to be persistent to enjoy the best benefits possible. This means you have to be consistent in the manner in which you train your dog.

Tip #4: Vary your training gears appropriately

Lastly, you are also advised to use different kinds of colors. You want your dog to be very agile and responsive to all forms of training possible.

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W-Drill Retriever Training

How to Perform the W-Drill

Introduction to W-Drill

W-Drill Dog Training is an exercise that transitions your dog from the yard to the cold blinds. Unlike many other fitness regimes, this one happens in the field; not the yard. It also strengthens and refines the skills which your dog requires to be successful with the cold blinds.

Compared to most other drills, this one is fairly advanced. As such, it requires strenuous and involving preparations. You will need to put on the basic yard lining and the casting skills together to prepare for it.

How to Perform the W-Drill

  1. Gather some 3 white 5-gallon buckets and a white training bumpers
  2. Place the buckets some 10-15 yards apart from each other
  3. Insert some 2 or 3 bumpers in each bucket
  4. Position your around 15-20 yards from the buckets
  5. While your dog is in this position, shout “back” or “dead bird”
  6. He is to get back to you with the bumper
  7. Command it further to get to your heel and deliver the bumper to your hand
  8. Let your dog face the next bucket; send some hand signal to it to do so
  9. Move the pile of bumpers beyond and within the buckets
  10. This way, your dog will face some distractions and find itself forced to hold its line while getting to the next bumper

Troubleshooting and Bonus Tips for W-Drill

Tip #1: Treat your dog attentively

It is not uncommon for your dog to fail to note the correct bumper. If this arises, you are advised to keep moving it closer to the desired bumper until it identifies it.

Tip #2: Vary your training appropriately

In case your dog is not responsive or is poor at identifying the bumpers, you are required to vary your training appropriately. This you do by increasing the number of intensity of training until it gets things right.

Tip #3: Alter the distances of the bumpers

Just in case your dog sustains inconsistent or poor controls, you are yet again asked to alter the distances of the bumpers. Set them at distances that are shorter to let it start well.

Tip #4: Practice in different environments

To be able to impact your dog thoroughly, be advised to practice in different environments. You will make it all round and have some awesome impacts.

Crows Foot Lining Drill Retriever Training

Introduction to Foot Lining Drill

Lastly comes the foot lining drill. The aim of this exercise is to refine the ability and willingness of your retriever to take a line. Other than this, it also combats the tendency to your dog to return to its previous fall or retrieve it.

To carry it out, the field you use has to be large and contain almost no cover. Being strenuous and involving, this is not an exercise you will get right in the first instance. Instead, you will go through some stage by stage procedures to be able to get the final outcomes.

How to Perform the Foot Lining Drill

  1. Set up some 6 bumpers on the field you intend to use
  2. While setting these bumpers, be sure to space them at intervals of 2 hours from the time your dog is to start the exercise
  3. As stated above, this set up has to be in the field where they are clearly legible
  4. Send your dog to the first bumper while it is sitting straight and paying the necessary attention
  5. He is to get to the bumper, pick it up and then return to you
  6. After he gets back to you, call it to calm and thereafter let it deliver the bumper to your hand
  7. Position it in the same direction as the remaining bumpers and at that very spot. Ask it to go for it.
  8. 2 hours later, issue the same commands to the next bumper
  9. Finish off with the last bumper another 2 hours
  10. Repeat the procedures above with all the 6 retrieves
  11. Mix up the order in which you do so for the sake of improving its agility

Troubleshooting and Bonus Tips for Foot Lining Drill

Tip #1: Plan ahead of time

As we stated, this exercise is not as simple as the ones we have already looked into. That is why you want to plan ahead of time. You can never do this without obtaining the necessary skill and expertise.

Tip #2: Repeat the exercises severally

Needless to say, you have to repeat the exercise. Being complex, it is unlikely that you will get things right in the first attempt. Pay keen attention to the progress of your dog as you do so.

Tip #3: Maintain some consistency

You also have to maintain some consistency. How else will you drum the skill and expertise your dog needs? Identify any soft spots in your dog and make appropriate arrangements to remedy them too!

Final Thoughts on Lining

The above 5 lining drills are the most popular ones. The idea is to spend time with your dog while he learns these drills. Once he has mastered them, the difficulty can be increased by moving to double and blind drills.

Also, he needs to learn where the bird is lying on the ground and bring it back without getting distracted with anything else.

The most important advice that I can give is not to hurry because the AKC hunt test will be a real test for your dog. The more time he has spent in mastering these lining drills, the better result you will see in his exams.

Staying on the line marked for him is so important even when the dog is completing the retrieval job successfully.

The judges at the AKC hunt test will see if the dog is getting on the exact path set for him. If he takes shortcuts or gets distracted, then the judge will deduct the score from his final result.

This requires you to teach your retriever dog to follow exactly what is being asked him to do. The above lining drills are taught to the dogs doing retrieval jobs only to improve their fetch skills and hence the dog is finally able to clear the AKC hunt exam.

As the dog gains experience with live hunts, he can then also appear for a higher difficulty exam which is the senior hunt exam.

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